In the mag: Messi in Miami! PLUS Alonso at Leverkusen, Vicario, Deco, Champions League preview, FFT goes to AFCON and MORE!

FourFourTwo Issue 362
(Image credit: Future)

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First a message from our editor, James Andrew:

In June 1978, George Best ran out at a packed Lockhart Stadium to make his debut for Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the North American Soccer League. Best was past his prime but still able to turn on the magic, scoring twice in a 5-3 win over New York Cosmos.

Forty five years later, Lionel Messi played his first game for Inter Miami at the very same location, in a stadium built on the same site as Fort Lauderdale Strikers’ old home. Just like Best, he didn’t disappoint, bagging a late winner.

Since MLS began in 1996 to replace the defunct NASL, David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry have sprinkled their stardust, as football tries to find its place in a sports-mad country with varying degrees of success.

The signing of Messi, though, was the transfer coup to end all transfer coups. Whether he can help Inter Miami become champions this year remains to be seen, but his impact off the pitch will determine whether his time Stateside is successful.

Globally he’s bigger than NFL star Patrick Mahomes or NBA ace LeBron James, but can he make MLS a force both in America and internationally? Time will tell, but it should be a fun watch.


The Messi Effect

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Lionel Messi (Image credit: Future)

Lionel Messi stamped his mark on football in the US from his very first match – this year, the maestro’s mission is to help Inter Miami become MLS champions.

Legends’ oddest career moves

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Mad moves (Image credit: Future)

Long before Messi headed to MLS, these stars also travelled the world – ending up in some surprising places…

‘Spurs were the only club for me’

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Guglielmo Vicario (Image credit: Future)

Guglielmo Vicario isn’t your average Premier League goalkeeper. Having spent six seasons in Italy’s lower leagues and welcomed Ukrainian refugees into his family home, he tells FFT why taking risks means he’s appreciating every moment at Tottenham…

Xabi Alonso: the puppet-master

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Xabi Alonso (Image credit: Future)

The Spaniard has emerged as Europe’s next top boss after putting Bayer Leverkusen in contention for a maiden Bundesliga crown. Having learned under Pep, Jose, Carlo and Rafa, is the apprentice from an unlikely coaching hotbed the man to succeed Jurgen Klopp?

Champions League last 16 – what to watch out for

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: UCL preview (Image credit: Future)

Alonso will have to wait until next season for a crack at Europe’s premier club competition – before then, though, the bunfight to lift Ol’ Big Ears enters its business end once more.

The rise and fall of Portsmouth

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Portsmouth (Image credit: Future)

Twenty-five years ago, Milan Mandaric landed in England after a spell at Nice, Jim Ratcliffe-style – via a love-hate partnership with Harry Redknapp, he paved the way for Portsmouth’s glory days.

FFT goes to AFCON

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: AFCON (Image credit: Future)

The Africa Cup of Nations is known for the unexpected, but what’s it really like to be there? FFT headed to Ivory Coast to meet Supertramp, goats and Didier Drogba…

Deco answers YOUR questions

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Deco (Image credit: Future)

The former Porto, Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder recalls training sessions with Graeme Souness, European glory under Jose Mourinho, Euro 2004 heartbreak, playing alongside Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, and life now as Barça’s sporting director. 

Tactically speaking

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Tactics (Image credit: Future)

Analytical expert Adam Clery explains how Mohamed Salah’s new role at Liverpool has benefited his goalscoring, reveals what makes Mohammed Kudus one of the signings of the season and salutes the late Franz Beckanbauer’s groundbreaking impact on the game.

Around the grounds in the EFL, non-league and Scotland

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Around the Grounds (Image credit: Future)

Veteran Hull goal-getter Billy Sharp talks the Tigers’ promotion hopes, leaving boyhood club Sheffield United without a proper goodbye and that headbutt by a Nottingham Forest fan.

In September 2022, Zander Murray became Scotland’s first male professional footballer to come out. After a “mad” 2023, the Gala Fairydean Rovers man is aiming to inspire others.

Diehard Stockport supporter Chloe Beresford reminisces about George Weah gracing Edgeley Park, Boxing Day batterings at Macclesfield, mass brawls and cup giant-killings.

Not all bitter rivalries involve neighbours going head-to-head – from terrible tackles to title race tomfoolery, we look at teams who have found very different reasons to bear a grudge.

Carl Magnay almost skipped Football Icon trials before going on to win the reality TV show – now, the ex-Chelsea and Gateshead defender aims to pass on his star-studded experience.

The Mixer

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: The Mixer (Image credit: Future)

Our round-up of the game’s snazziest stuff showcases Fulham hoodies, Mbappe boots, non-league ladders, Venezia threads and Manchester City’s Year of the Dragon collection.

Seen something you want to put in The Mixer? DM Deputy Editor Matt Ketchell


FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Upfront (Image credit: Future)

Playing off the last defender, it’s the big-man little-man partnership of football and funnies…

Celtic, Aston Villa and Bulgaria legend Stiliyan Petrov picks the games that changed his life, achieving the unprecedented feat of selecting four matches that all ended in defeat.

FFT columnist Jules Breach runs the rule over Manchester City and Arsenal’s chances of Champions League success, as Europe’s elite team tournament reaches the last 16 stage.

Try to conquer our quiz about record goalscorers, Olympic stadiums and top-flight Towns.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham reflects on all things Everton in My Football, including pitch invasions that influenced Fever Pitch and the striker who jumped over a Mini.

Elsewhere, we debate the acceptability of buying half-and-half scarves, name our alternative Premier League team of the year, learn of strange grasshopper goings-on in Switzerland and find out why Harry Kane’s new home in Germany once hosted a vasectomy by a ferret…

In the Players Lounge this month…

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Players' Lounge (Image credit: Future)

John Moncur remembers tackling a lion in Munich, shipping goals at Swindon and Glenn Hoddle’s genius, while Lianne Sanderson discusses sexism battles as a young player and thriving in the USA, and Antti Niemi talks Gazza at Rangers and FA Cup final frustration.

Perfect XI

FourFourTwo Issue 362

FourFourTwo Issue 362: Perfect XI (Image credit: Future)

Jet-heeled Swede Jesper Blomqvist picks a team packed with Manchester United Treble winners (featuring himself, of course) plus several stars from Italian football’s golden era.

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Gregg Davies

Gregg Davies is the Chief Sub Editor of FourFourTwo magazine, joining the team in January 2008 and spending seven years working on the website. He supports non-league behemoths Hereford and commentates on Bulls matches for Radio Hereford FC. His passions include chocolate hobnobs and attempting to shoehorn Ronnie Radford into any office conversation.